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Celebrating the Influence of Women
By Sally E. Smith

The influence of women is evident throughout the chronicles of civilization, from the poetry of the ancient Greeks (Sappho), to the military prowess of France in the late Middle Ages (Joan of Arc), to medical and scientific breakthroughs in modern times (Marie Curie). All too often, though, historians overlook the accomplishments of the soulful, brave, and brilliant women who have worked tirelessly for positive change in the world. And, the contributions of plus-size women don’t even get a footnote in the annals of history. That’s why, in 1987 and each year since, the National Women’s History Project (headquartered near MiB’s own offices) spearheaded a successful Congressional lobbying effort declaring March as National Women’s History Month.

While National Women’s History Month gives us the opportunity to honor the accomplishments of prominent plus-size women, it’s also a reminder that greatness resides in every woman, whether her sphere of influence is her immediate family, her community, or on the global stage. In celebration, why not seize the moment and pay tribute to extraordinary women? Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Make history. Right now, there’s legislation pending before the Massachusetts legislature that would make size discrimination illegal. (Currently, only Michigan; San Francisco; Santa Cruz, CA; Madison, WI; and Washington DC have similar laws on the books.) Sponsored by Representative Byron Rushing, the bill is scheduled for hearing on March 25. If you live in Massachusetts, you can call 617-722-2000 and ask to speak to your state representative. Ask for his or her support on this historic measure. You can also come to the hearing at the Boston State House at 2:00 p.m. that day in Room A-2.

2. Write a letter. We each know “ordinary” women who have been positive forces in our lives. Perhaps she is the teacher who believed in us so we could believe in ourselves. Maybe she is the mentor who showed us the ropes and enabled us to advance in our careers. Perhaps she is the neighbor who provided us with a safe haven when we sought refuge from a chaotic home life. Take the time to write her a letter, thanking her and acknowledging the impact she’s had on your life.

3. Conduct an interview. We often see women – especially our relatives – through the lenses of the roles they play. Yet every woman has aspirations and dreams. Set aside a special time with your mother or grandmother and ask her about her life as a girl and young woman. Who were her role models? Who was her first crush? What did she want to be when she grew up? Listen with an open heart, and bring a tape recorder. It’s likely to be an eye-opening experience.

4. Bring out the costumes. Plan a party with your plus-size friends. Research historically significant plus-size women, and assign a role to each of your friends. For the party, each invitee should come dressed as the woman she’s representing, and be prepared to share some interesting stories about her character’s life.

5. Share your “herstory.” As women, we’re the keepers of family history and heirlooms. Plan a potluck brunch, but in addition to bringing food, each person must bring along a keepsake that was given to her by a woman in her family. During the meal, guests share the significance of their family heirlooms.

Every woman yearns to leave her mark on the world, in ways both large and small. National Women’s History Month is a wonderful excuse to celebrate our accomplishments, and those of the women who came before us.

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